On scene, being a paramedic can get quite stressful; not only am I assessing and providing care for a myriad of patient groups, many who are vulnerable, I frequently make life and death decisions. It’s a far cry from working in a GP practice or A&E department, where senior colleagues are available for assistance or when you need that extra pair of hands; in the pre-hospital setting I’m quite often out on a limb, if not alone.
When it comes to determining a patient’s medical history or making clinical decisions about their care and treatment, it’s a case of asking the patient - who is often unable to tell you - or searching the property for information.
The GP Connect service is a game-changer. It's enabled paramedics like me to gain access to, when appropriate, a patient’s GP medical records and assist in making decisions about their care and treatment. It’s accessible with just a few clicks, there’s no long phone calls or time on-hold, and no calling round to find the right person. It’s right in front of me and, most importantly, it’s available 24/7.
Before GP Connect, I had limited options for accessing past medical data – this usually involved calling the patient’s GP. During daylight hours this approach sometimes works but seldom are the phone lines free. The most difficult time to be a paramedic is out-of-hours, when it becomes quite pressured and there’s nowhere to turn when you need a shared decision or to check your thoughts. GP Connect solves all of this.
GP Connect enables us to access a patient’s detailed GP medical history and glean information about recent encounters with a health professional, determine trends or frequent callers, see new or discontinued medications, compare previous ECG rhythms for acute changes and, most especially, review Do Not Resuscitate orders.
It's been the best digital health development that I’ve seen in five years in the ambulance service. It’s a game-changer for clinical decision making and for my colleagues and I in providing better patient care and often using more appropriate alternative pathways than the default – the A&E department.
I have too many examples to write about where GP Connect has been essential to improve patient care. In my opinion, the most important use is when I make End of Life Care decisions - the ability to review a patient’s Do Not Resuscitate or Respect wishes is invaluable, not only for my rationale, but for giving the patient dignity in dying.
I hope GP Connect is here to stay.
Many of my colleagues have given feedback about the usefulness of the service and the information it provides; I also did a little survey when we launched it in Stoke:
Have you used GP Connect, and if so, did you find it useful?
|Yes, I found it very helpful
|No, I wasn't aware of it
|No, I haven't needed to
Some feedback from my colleagues:
- “It’s one of the best things we have.”
- “An excellent service, so useful to see and confirm what the patient is saying.”
- "Very useful feature. Went to someone yesterday intoxicated and overdosed on sertraline; found on GP Connect she was only recently prescribed this and was able to work out her maximum daily dose from the information available. An excellent tool to have available to us!”
- Had a patient with a heavy period and found on GP Connect she’d been prescribed Tranexamic Acid but hadn’t yet collected it from the pharmacy; armed with this we were able to arrange the prescription, collect the medication and avoid hospital for the patient. Without GP Connect we wouldn’t have managed this”